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Updated on October 20, 2011


With the advent of television, many visualized a slow death of the newspaper. After all television had many advantages. Arresting visuals, excellent audio, slick editing and above all brilliant technical effects all combine to have a mesmerizing hold on us. The programs are doled out as small modules of infotainment, interlaced with mind numbing commercials. But what does the newspaper provide in comparison. The same staid format, motionless pictures and uninspiring reports. At least that was what some believed.

It is true television has a wider reach than the newspaper. These electromagnetic waves reach every corner of the earth. All you need is a television set to capture it, and even illiterate people can understand its contents. But the newspaper demands far more involvement of the reader. Not only should he or she be literate enough to decode the nuances of word, but have the mental agility to concentrate. The television is far less taxing.

That being the case, what accounts for the continuing popularity of the newspaper? That is because it provides something which the television cannot. By its very nature, the contents of TV are ephemeral in nature. Breaking news can be dramatically done, as in the case of 9/11 attack. But unlike the newspaper It does not have a time lag between consecutive issues. Television has to continuously dole out something, and when you have nothing new to say, that is when the program directors problems begin. So you are forced to have news programs interspersed with interaction with experts or field reporters. After the initial newsbreak, what TV doles out is just fillers. In fact the major challenge of a TV program director is to find suitable content to fill 24 hours a day. The attendant problems due to this are also immense. The deadlines are short, time for editing contents almost non-existent and the focus usually shallow. The coverage too is by and large local

This is the newspaper has an advantage. There is sufficient time for editing, focus is more national than local and content may contain lots of depth reporting. Of course you have to resort to this, because unlike television, news updating by the minute is not possible. But as people are interested to know the ‘why’ part of news which can be furnished only after some probing, only newspaper has the flexibility to do this. Its content is such that, it provides more supplementary material to understand the unfolding news. Modern newspapers are very particular about presentation. The type of fonts used, the layout of the paper, the extensive us of photographs and the placement of news are all done with extreme care. Advertisers too like the affordability and flexibility of the newspaper. So despite the mesmerizing hold of the visual media over people, newspapers are here to stay. But in these days of intense competition ethics has taken a backseat, which does not bode well for either the fourth estate or society. Both television and newspaper are duty bound to introspect on issues like right to privacy, hacking etc, if their credibility is not to be eroded.


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